Well it’s a rather dreary looking Tuesday morning here in the Sunshine State. I’m off to Melbourne in a few short hours and have stopped by here to give you blog #62. Today I thought we’d chat a bit about Conscious Shopping.
What is it? Well, many things probably. Well, at least two. Their definition and mine (‘their’ being those other than me). I’ve heard some people refer to conscious shopping as being about buying ‘green’ — clothes that are not industrially dyed or manufactured using slave or child labour, that kind of thing. These kinds of clothes would carry the warning: “no bamboo was harmed during the making of this garment”. And I like that definition of conscious shopping. It’s just not my definition.
My Definition. Remember blog #59 when I gave a Working Definition of Shop Your Wardrobe? (well, it’s hard to forget, I know). Expanding on the pearls I laid before you in that post, shopping consciously would encompass the following:
- You have a plan, a strategy, an overarching r’aison d’etre for going shopping. There is no randomness to the shopping trip where you wander listlessly from rack to rack, with no clear thought about what it is you’re looking for. For some of you, this element of Shopping Consciously alone will change how you shop.
- You have done some pre-playing in your wardrobe and know what you need. You’ve done a bit of a wardrobe chuck-out and have identified any legitimate gaps in what you have and what you need. This may have taken you a whole day or 10 minutes. However long it took, you didn’t just leap into the car and point it in the direction of a shopping centre with no further thought. You got some “good intel” before going shopping. And you got it from your own wardrobe (and brain).
- Once purchased, the items on your shopping list will fit your lifestyle and will also play nicely with at least 3 other items, if not the entire closet. This way, you will not be bringing home any ‘orphans’ that don’t go with anything else (or require additional items to be purchased to make them work — see last post on Ange’s jeans shopping debacle)
- During your shopping expedition, you keep a focused head about you. You know what you’re there to buy, and you keep that Front And Centre. This is not to say that you don’t enjoy all the lovely other things on display. You just don’t want to be a sitting duck, vulnerable to every alluring table display and group of mannequins displaying gorgeous things that you don’t need. Stop – admire – even try on. But keep focused on what you’re there for.
- If you do find something gorgeous that’s not part of your strategy (ie: not on the list) and you are Seriously Considering buying it, that’s ok. Just make sure it ticks ALL of these boxes: Does the colour suit me? Does the style flatter my body shape? Does the item fit my lifestyle? Will I be able to wear it with at least 3 other things already in my wardrobe? Will it be relatively easy to care for (ie: no hand washing or dry-cleaning every time you wear it)? Does it fit well or can it be easily altered? Does my bum look big in this? (well, every woman asks herself that last question as a matter of course, don’t they? Even if they’re trying on shoes)
Shop less, but more. Really! I’d suggest that you are better of going shopping 2 – 4 times a year, consciously, than once every week or so, randomly. This way, you shop based on your “intel” (do a wardrobe review and chuck-out – then build your list of Must Haves — not the seasonal must haves, mind. No. These are your must haves) — not based on what the fashion merchandisers are flaunting right at this moment.
So go shopping less often, but for longer. You’ll need a longer shopping trip because you’ve got specific and numerous things to purchase. You devote more time to the expedition, but you come home with only what you need.
This way, shopping fits into its proper place. It isn’t a hobby or a contact sport. And in the end, this approach will save you time. Woooo – saved time! Isn’t that what half the women’s magazines (and a quarter of the men’s) are saying we are all desperately short of? Well, here’s a way to scrape some of it back!
When you shop this way, you enjoy shopping, but it doesn’t become your life (your life is too important to devote to shopping).
Switch to the ON position. Shopping consciously implies that your brain is switched to the ON position. I say that with the greatest affection, you know. I have often been shopping with my brain switched to the NEUTRAL position. That “there but not there” state of vagueness where you are actually hyper-suggestible and therefore likely to come home with a few more bags and a few more pages on your credit card bill.
Please don’t go shopping in that state. The only people that that’s good for are unscrupulous retailers who are only interested in volume sales – not developing loyal customers who go home thrilled with their purchases.
If you are too tired, too overwraught, too stresesed, too whatever — don’t go shopping. The temporary pick-me-up it provides wont last anyway, and it’ll be accompanied by some “below the line” feelings of guilt and “oh no, now I have to go return this thing anyway”.
Only go shopping when you are feeling alert and energetic. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and what’s going on inside you. Yes, let’s get all woo-woo for a moment here. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably won’t work for you – so pay attention as much attention to your instincts as you do to the sales staff. Maybe more.
You know when your brain is switched to the ON position, and when it’s not. Only go shopping when it’s ON.
Investigate other options. Instead of always hitting the mall or large shopping centre, you might want to consider new but not new options (which I talked about here and here. And remember consignment shopping – it’s the best!). Including this type of shopping, and those types of stores, into your shopping expeditions will add some colour and variety and fun. You’ll likely find some unique treasures, and not just the mass produced stuff on sale in the big department and chain stores.
It’s worth it. You’re worth it. If you’ve been a serious shopper, someone who shopped regularly, and randomly, then developing some new habits around how you shop will take a bit of time. Shopping consciously is where you want to be, though, so stick with it until you can shop this way easily.
Shopping consciously will save you money and time and it’ll also save your sanity in the long run. And we all need a little more of those, don’t we. Right?